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Vice President's Critical Assessment - 2001


IUPAC was established in 1919 as a global, non-governmental, non-profit, scientific organization. As such, it is the only worldwide organization covering all fields of the chemical sciences. It is an honor and privilege to acknowledge and pay tribute to the members of IUPAC, eminent scientists whose sterling contributions have made such a difference to the status and practice of chemistry. Over many years, your commitment and dedication have enabled IUPAC to effectively serve the international educational, research and industrial communities. In fact, IUPAC is unique among the member unions of International Council for Science (ICSU) in its close relationship to an industry.

IUPAC is sailing into new waters: we are changing from a familiar, commission-based organization to one driven primarily by the inception of individual projects, while retaining our absolute commitment to effectively serving the worldwide scientific community. The success achieved in the transformation is the result of concerted, intelligent efforts, relying on the foresight and inspirational leadership of the recent IUPAC presidents, Albert Fischli, Joshua Jortner and Alan Hayes, ably supported by Secretary-General Ted Becker, and the IUPAC Secretariat. I thank all the officers, bureau members, divisional presidents, chairmen of standing committees, divisional managers and all the scientists for their commitment and unstinting loyalty to IUPAC; the new IUPAC will require even more dedication and commitment from all of us.

Most previous Vice-Presidential Critical Assessments (VPCAs) focused on analyzing the various scientific activities of its seven divisions; however, the VPCA of Joshua Jortner also contained a strategic analysis of the scientific policy of the Union. This seminal event in the history of IUPAC culminated in the establishment of the Strategy Development and Implementation Committee (SDIC). The ensuing IUPAC Strategic Plan was accepted by the Bureau at its meeting [Frankfurt, September 1998] and by the IUPAC Council [Berlin, August 1999].

The Strategic Plan was recently updated for 2000-2001. A major outcome of the Strategic Plan is embodied in a fundamentally different approach of IUPAC to its operations, specifically the formal termination of its current commissions at the end of this year and a focus on the execution of top quality internationally and scientifically relevant projects. These actions required the establishment of Project and Evaluation Committees, made up of bureau members and effectively managed by Profs. G den Boef and G Schneider, respectively.

This VPCA will not focus in any detail on the scientific activities of the divisions, since the capable Divisional Committees (DCs) currently assess these functions. Rather, this VPCA is directed to

  • [II] the management of IUPAC;
  • [III] the challenging areas of the chemical sciences;
  • [IV] the core of the new IUPAC: a review of the project-driven system;
  • [V] review of IUPAC's contribution to the advancement of research in the chemical sciences;
  • [VI] assessment of IUPAC's function in the development of effective channels of communication in the international chemical community;
  • [VII] Assessment of IUPAC's role in the service of chemistry in both developed and developing countries, with an emphasis on Africa;
  • [VIII] Conclusion: Highlights of 2000/2001, and recommendations for 2002/2003.

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